‘Miracle’ in Jordan as baby pulled alive from collapsed building

Four-months-old Malak, Arabic for “Angel”, recovers at Luzmila Hospital in Amman after she was pulled out by rescuers from under the rubble of a building in Jordan’s capital, more than 24 hours after its collapse. (AHMAD SHOURA / AFPTV / JORDAN PUBLIC SECURITY / AFP)

September 16, 2022

Jordanian mother Israa Raed said she was indescribably happy Thursday, after emergency workers rescued her four-month-old daughter Malak from the rubble of a collapsed building in the capital Amman.

“I knew it was her by her pink pyjamas,” Israa Raed, 26, told AFP, after waiting more than 24 hours for news of her only daughter.

“Words cannot describe how happy I am,” she said. “I thank God she’s safe.”

Hundreds of rescuers have been scouring the site of the four-storey residential building in Jabal al-Weibdeh, one of Amman’s oldest neighborhoods, since it toppled over on Tuesday.

At least 10 people were killed, authorities said, but the survival of Malak — ‘Angel’ in English — heralded some relief for many Jordanians who watched the disaster unfold.

Video footage shared by the civil defense service shows rescue workers extracting the little girl on Wednesday from a narrow gap in the debris. She sustained only minor bruises.

“The doctor said it was a miracle for my daughter to come out safely from under the ruins of a four-storey building,” the mother said, standing outside Luzmila Hospital, where Malak was being kept under observation.

“I had a gut feeling that she was alive, and my husband had reassured me that she was waiting for us.”

Raed, who sells perfume and makeup, said she left her only daughter with a friend who lived in the basement of the building so that she could deliver an order.

“I don’t live there. My friend lives there and I left my baby girl with her.”

A cry from the wreckage

“After about an hour, I got a phone call telling me that my daughter fell,” she recalled. “I started running like crazy. I thought she may have fallen from her bed, but when I arrived, I saw that the whole building collapsed over my daughter.”

“I started screaming, ‘Where is my girl? Where is my girl?'”

Just over 24 hours later, “the rescue workers told me that they heard a little girl’s cry,” she said.

Hussam Abboud, a 50-year-old rescue worker, said that “it was a divine miracle” that Malak came out alive.

She wasn’t seriously injured in the collapse itself, and “a small hole” in the concrete enabled her to carry on breathing, Raed said.

But she said that alongside her joy at baby Malak’s survival, she felt sadness, because her friend — and that friend’s own little daughter — did not make it out alive.

Another mother, who was out grocery shopping when the building collapsed, lost her three children, aged 17, 12, and nine.

A 45-year-old man was rescued from under the rubble on Wednesday, and defense sources initially said others may still be trapped there.

“I was hoping we would bring the rest out safely,” said Wissam Ziyadin, a 42-year-old rescue worker, as the prospects of pulling more people out alive dimmed.

Jordan’s public prosecutor Hassan al-Abdallat ordered the arrest of three people, state news agency Petra reported.

The trio were said to the building’s manager as well as two other people involved in maintenance work that was supposed to have been carried out on the structure, Petra added.

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